We are in an odd stretch in which cranky white men are coming forward to announce their bigotry. Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, in a standoff with the federal government over taxes, announced that blacks were "better off as slaves," sending his high-profile Republican supporters running for cover. Donald Sterling, soon to be the former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, exposed his racism in a taped phone call, and in an apparent attempt to apologize on CNN, ended up further exposing his bigotry and ignorance.
Next up this week is Wolfeboro, N.H., Police Commissioner Robert Copeland. Shortly after resident Jane O’Toole complained to town officials that she had overheard Mr. Copeland using the "N" word in reference to President Barack Obama in a restaurant, Ms. O’Toole received an email from Mr. Copeland acknowledging that she had heard correctly. "For this I do not apologize -- he meets and exceeds my criteria for such," explained the man who runs the town’s police department.
Commission Chairman Joseph Balboni Jr., a true profile in courage, told the Concord Monitor he would not ask Mr. Copeland to resign, adding, "He said some harsh words about Mr. Obama, and here we are. This woman, she’s blowing it all out of proportion." Residents in attendance at Thursday’s police commission meeting demanded his resignation.
Those who defend the likes of these three on the grounds of the right to free speech should keep in mind that no one, including our Founding Fathers, ever said that exercising that right would not have consequences. Public ridicule is certainly one of them. Men like these do offer the important reminder that all around us exist stupidity and racism -- Mr. Copeland would certainly appear to meet and exceed the criteria for such. We should never lose our capacity for outrage when stupidity and racism manifest themselves, as has been the case a lot of late.